What is "Mind?"

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High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Sep 13, 2017 - 09:02am PT
Nice, Dingus, I'm envious.

Enjoy!
WBraun

climber
Sep 13, 2017 - 09:12am PT


Just see how gross materialists reboot their material confusions in the mornings ...... :-)
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Sep 13, 2017 - 02:21pm PT
There is NO RHM2 here .....


There is.

Take another look.

Dingus is a keen observer.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 13, 2017 - 04:07pm PT
How does the brain create consciousness? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Yohan John, Ph.D in Cognitive and Neural Systems:

Does the brain create consciousness? I'm not so sure. At the very least, I know that no neuroscientist has caught the brain "red-handed" in the act of creating consciousness.

... are we logos
In neurons of the brain
Maintaining voltage gradients
Across a membrane?

(That's a lyric from the new Yeasayer album.)

The standard materialist position is that consciousness is tied up with the brain. There is plenty of evidence that the brain influences consciousness (and vice versa!), ranging from studies of brain damage to the well-known effects of mind-altering chemicals.

The problem with going any further than this correlational fact is that no one knows how to define consciousness from an objective, third-person perspective. We only have access to one consciousness: our own. Every other consciousness is in a sense inferred from behavior. This process of inference is a social process, which is why the debate on animal consciousness is unlikely to end any time soon. We treat people as conscious because they seem conscious to us, and this seeming is a product of both our evolved perceptual systems and the cultural systems that operate on top of them. The fact that people disagree about whether a particular animal species is conscious or not suggests that there is no universal intuition about consciousness.

Because the problem of consciousness is a problem of definitions, some neuroscientists have decided to stick their necks out and define it. A popular recent definition is contained in integrated information theory, proposed by Guilio Tononi and Cristoph Koch. An apparent consequence of their definition is that pretty much anything can be conscious if it has the right sort of "information integratedness." A philosopher named Eric Schwitzgebel ran with this line of thinking, and attempted to show that If Materialism Is True, the United States Is Probably Conscious.

To their credit, Tononi and Koch seem to have bitten the bullet and accepted a form of panpsychism — the idea that everything is conscious. Some philosophers dislike it when definition are too broad; they call the process "bloating." It's a useful concept in my opinion. If everything from electrons to galaxies is somewhat conscious (by virtue of being somewhere on the "information integratedness" scale) then the concept of consciousness becomes less useful as a descriptor of observable phenomena. (But then again, perhaps we never actually observe consciousness anyway. We observe with consciousness. Consciousness itself seems to have no material attributes; it is only the objects or targets of consciousness that have attributes. )

This is why it is always good to go back to the kinds of definitions of consciousness used by philosophers and mystics. These definitions are much closer to our colloquial understanding of consciousness than anything proposed by neuroscientists. Consciousness is the field of subjective experience. We can communicate aspects of this experience, but we can never share directly in any consciousness other than our own. We cannot answer the question "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?" . We can barely even speculate about it.

One of my favorite descriptions of consciousness comes from Julian Jaynes' bizarre and beautiful book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

O WHAT A WORLD of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! What ineffable essences, these touchless rememberings and unshowable reveries! And the privacy of it all! A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries. A whole kingdom where each of us reigns reclusively alone, questioning what we will, commanding what we can. A hidden hermitage where we may study out the troubled book of what we have done and yet may do. An introcosm that is more myself than anything I can find in a mirror. This consciousness that is myself of selves, that is everything, and yet nothing at all — what is it?
And where did it come from?
And why?

Descriptions like this also reveal why neuroscience will always struggle to study consciousness in all its private glory. How are we supposed to study something that is a "hidden hermitage"? We never actually see consciousness. All we see are its consequences in behavior. So when we look for the neural correlates of consciousness, what we are really looking for are the neural correlates of certain measurable behaviors that we think are closely related with consciousness, such as attention, access to information, and (perhaps most important) the ability to comprehend and communicate.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Sep 13, 2017 - 08:16pm PT
Consciousness is the field of subjective experience.


That just shifts the language from consciousness to subjective experience.


My Ph. D. advisor long ago made it clear to me that higher mental functions were not amenable to neurophysiological study. I believe that is still the case.


There is no reason to believe that progress will not be made, though. If you care to name a particular subjective experience, there will probably be some neuroscience that comments on it.
jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Sep 13, 2017 - 08:39pm PT
Yohan John Blog


Seems like a nice, thoughtful young man, a postdoc at BU. No real answers, of course, nor suggested path to enlightenment. But speaks favorably of qualia. His definition of consciousness is a bit circular: Consciousness is the field of subjective experience

WBraun

climber
Sep 13, 2017 - 09:33pm PT
How does the brain create consciousness?


Again brain can't create consciousness,

Consciousness is always already there in all life forms and is not created by the material energies nor their elements.

The gross materialists are the ones who actually theorize and believe in magic and wooo .......
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Sep 14, 2017 - 03:55am PT
Largo,

what we are really looking for are the neural correlates of certain measurable behaviors that we think are closely related with consciousness, such as attention, access to information, and (perhaps most important) the ability to comprehend and communicate.

You have left out what I think may be the most important aspect of consciousness awareness: feelings


We never actually see consciousness. All we see are its consequences in behavior.

We did not have to actually see electrons to get a working theory of them for both chemistry and electronics.

This is why it is always good to go back to the kinds of definitions of consciousness used by philosophers and mystics.

Definitions if you will, but I think science likely will not be looking to match some antiquated definition of consciousness but asking what is going on here.

There is plenty of evidence that the brain influences consciousness (and vice versa!)

The vice versa part bothers me. I know there are reports that your experience may alter your brain but the brain made the initial sensory gathering in the first place. I do not think such as you suggest has actually been shown to happen when you take into account first local causes.

Because the problem of consciousness is a problem of definitions, ....

Yes, to some on this thread the definitions of consciousness do not need any further clarification than to say, Consciousness Is. But again the lack of a clearcut definition or some form of nonsense plays little to none in hindering a science researcher from continuing his efforts to find out more about the brain. Having a definition of consciousness that describes the way it is would take knowing what it is.

The fact that people disagree about whether a particular animal species is conscious or not suggests that there is no universal intuition about consciousness.

The Sam Harris podcast with T Metzinger [beings at 33 min and hits topic at 39 min] contains a discussion about the lack of intuition we have for an explanation of consciousness. Some think the first person experience knows it all -- but does science care of the personhood order when offering explanations. First person testimony historically has been offered as evidence contrary to science finding many times and it is happening as we speak.

One can cite all kinds of historical cases of our lack of intuition of how something works [which goes around what when asking of the Sun & Earth] but knowing such is the case with our intuition of mind does mean there will be a lot wild explanations and likely only one growing set of ideas will converge as research continues.

If the duck is correct I suspect we will eventually see the scientifics pathway for such an observation to be true. Mr Duch, Oh, tell us the pathway .... But we are not waiting for him to produce that explanation.
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Sep 14, 2017 - 05:56am PT
T Metzinger asks, "Can we demand of a good theory of consciousness that it gives us an intuitive feeling that this is right"?

He says likely not as such intuitions have little to do with having a better survival chance and hence consciousness intuitions of rightness were not developed [ evolutionary wise].

Subjectivley I hear, ... this is not my beautiful wife, this is not my beautiful house...

the same as it ever was the same as it ever was.

Largo, the water is holding you down

Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Sep 14, 2017 - 07:15am PT
Metzinger tells his take of the Hard Problem: Chalmers HP = boring.


The conceivability argument.
A vague definition of consciousness will lead to all kinds of arguments when we say, [if] "It is like something, therefore ....

Yes, maybe there could be a hard problem for the way Chalmer's has conceived consciousness to be. PhucK-C

Who is stupid enough to use that Largo/Chalmers definition/conceivement of what of consciousness is & let the water hold 'em down?

Get a new sabre, Largo

Metzinger thinks by 2050 we will have a neural correlate of consciousness.
MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Sep 14, 2017 - 07:54am PT
Dingus,

I used the word “might.”

And what about those squiggles?

And what are feelings, again? You said you were going to look into Damasio to see what he said they were. Did you find him defining feelings, after all? (Would you go to a dictionary for their determination?) I described them as textures.

I know there are reports that your experience may alter your brain but the brain made the initial sensory gathering in the first place. 

A neural pathway between a neuron and muscles has been shown (at first) to have the consistency of snot. However, if it is fired repeatedly, it hardens. Software becomes hardware, if you will. It’s one reason why habits are so very difficult to break. It’s argued that they must be replaced by another habit, rather than deactivating a hardened neural pathway (the original habit).

Second, roughly between the ages of 1 1/2 and 4-5, a child’s brain is supposedly flooded with a certain set of chemicals that spawn a very wide and highly connected inchoate neural network. At 4-5, the chemistry comes back to much lower levels, and those connection sets that are used often (fired) will remain to be further developed. Those that are not, will recede / disappear. It is for this primary reason that parents are encouraged to expose infants and children to many different experiences (music, languages, art, eye-hand coordination activities). The greater variety of experiences in early development will tend to permanently broaden their abilities and minds.

Chicken? Egg?


As one gets older in looking at these things, one sees a pattern developing about what might constitute wisdom. At first it appears to be learning about the “things” in the world: objects and how they relate to each other. Behaviors are included. Typical science has much to say to us here. After a while, one comes to see that the meaning that one ascribes to objects and things appears to be more important or meaningful. The humanities offer much here. Finally, IMO, one comes to see what appears to be underneath all meanings, and that might best be described as the experience of experience itself: consciousness, awareness, simply being, without content. Many esoteric spiritual traditions have had much to say here (but nothing that is definite). Reality is like an onion that gets peeled. There’s no end to it, apparently. (Maya and her veils.) We always seem to be transcending our views and understanding. Everything seems to disappear, and we are left with just . . . THIS.

From squiggles, to meanings, to coming to grips with the essence of the human condition (consciousness). Applying methods from an earlier development to a latter development is a kind of regression.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Sep 14, 2017 - 07:59am PT
one comes to see what appears to be underneath all meanings, and that might best be described as the experience of experience itself: consciousness, awareness, simply being, without content.


Yes. This happens to a lot of old people.
Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Sep 14, 2017 - 09:05am PT
MikeL,

simply being, without content.

Fine, then what is your purpose here on this thread -- simply being?

I can see the without content part in you but science without content? Nonsense. Talk about who makes the squiggles. Welcome aboard -- Mr Wisdom who sees behind the curtain of curtains. Ha ah hah. A lazy ass will get you nowhere. Ask any donkey owner. Yes from that throne of wisdom you know it all -- for which simply being is just another concept to paraphrase you. Without concepts all we get from you is the stance of your elegant simply being -- how about dragging out a new idea as

MikeL,

Applying methods from an earlier development to a latter development is a kind of regression.

Why bother? Do you understand that your declaration of regression applies to the greatest of Yogi's also?

Enough! Good Day MikeL.


Dingus McGee

Social climber
Where Safety trumps Leaving No Trace
Sep 14, 2017 - 12:07pm PT
MikeL,

Chicken? Egg?


The answer to that [your] dilemma is the Egg. the Egg contains the same DNA as the chicken's DNA. The Egg was produced by two non-chickens combining their DNA and the result was a mutant egg that led to a chicken. Likely that chicken was not entirely sterile to some of those non-chichen parents peers and kin. And if the chickens's traits were quite dominant they would likely reappear in offspring of the chicken & its kin breeding with either chickens or the substance DNA of its parent.

MikeL.

Did you find him [Demasio] defining feelings,


Not a definition, but a suggestion as to how they were produced in the brain/body tightly bound resonance system.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2017 - 01:16pm PT
Dingus said: I can see the without content part in you but science without content? Nonsense.



What invaluable data do you "see" in terms of "without content."

My guess is you are not getting what is being said, or don't believe it going in - that is, that there are aspects of consciousness that cannot be understood by looking at dancing neurons alone.

While you can argue that ad nauseum, perhaps first state in clear language what your experience is (and knowledge gleaned) with dealing with awareness sans content, and specifically, what you "see."

As we have seen repeatedly here, most people consider even looking directly at subjectivity is either a matter of being fused with content (especially feelings), or believing that "navel gazing" is actually a game of trying to do science (also all about content) without instruments.

Not so.

JL
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Sep 14, 2017 - 02:00pm PT
Just see how gross materialists reboot their material confusions in the mornings ...... :-)

Ho man some mornings it takes two or three reboots!

DMT
yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
Sep 14, 2017 - 03:49pm PT
The closest I think I've ever come to something like awareness without content is the state of being "spaced out". My dogs and cats seem to do this a lot, as well.
jgill

Boulder climber
The high prairie of southern Colorado
Sep 14, 2017 - 04:08pm PT
It may be possible to "glimpse" the empty stage of awareness through meditation. But I'm not recalling any recommendations of where then to go. Does one keep returning to this experience, like a religious devotee worshiping an icon?
yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
Sep 14, 2017 - 05:00pm PT
I suppose my point is I'm not sure I even believe in the possibility of "consciousness" without content, anymore than I believe in the possibilty of eating without putting food in your mouth, or the sound of one hand clapping (there is no sound). In mathematics we assume an empty set, but it seems more a conceptual convenience than some inherent structural feature of the universe. For example, with the empty set we can speak about the intersection of sets as being a set, even if they have nothing in common. The empty set is not something interesting in itself, to be marveled upon. Even when it's a counterexample, it can basically be ignored. In fact, the important thing in mathematics is quite often to prove the set you have in consideration is not empty. A theory about the empty set is no theory at all. jgill, can you help me with this?
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
Sep 14, 2017 - 05:02pm PT
there are aspects of consciousness that cannot be understood by looking at dancing neurons alone.


So you say. But can you tell us which aspects?
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